Monday, October 1, 2012

More Fish! Baked Flounder with a Buttery White Wine Reduction

Fish is something highly lacking in my diet since my return from the Mediterranean. I feel like I ate fish or seafood there everyday, and you honestly do feel healthier, not to mention you get to play around with sauces and flavors as complex or simple as you desire. I am a sucker for making sauces. This was not often seen in my travels in Spain, where golden sweet olive oil with a bite pretty much takes care of all the complexity you need in a dish (topped with sea salt of course), but I love love LOVE sauces. Fish really does open up that door for you. Between light and delicate sauces, a lot like the one I am going to show you today, and fish marinades or that all-powerful swipe of magical sushi sauce that Jiro Ono makes pure art out of. If you have never heard of Master Jiro Ono, please introduce yourself--he is an accomplished "itamae" or sushi artist I would say, and he is probably the most accessible of the fine sushi masters to the Western world (hence his 3-Michelin Star über-fame)--at 86 years old, that respect should already be a given without gratuitous tags from judgement boards, but I digress.

Today we are preparing a humble flounder fillet. I did some research around the interwebs on different approaches to preparing flounder. Because the fillets are generally quite thin, the suggestion was to roll up and toothpick together, then bake it seam down on parchment paper. It doesn't make for an astounding presentation because the fillet looks like an afterthought instead of the main show--so you'll note that with my sub-par photography skills...I'm sorry, I couldn't really style this one up as well, but the taste is great, so you'll have to take my word for it!

I made a sauce that was a white wine reduction with cubed butter. Oh, you say that's a beurre blanc? Well, yes I guess, except with less guilt because it is missing the heavy cream. I used a similar technique to the traditional beurre blanc, in which I whisked cubes of cold butter into the wine reduction a little at a time and heated gently until I reached that frothy consistency we want! Yes, it was phenomenal. See what you can do when you run out of ingredients ;) it's not the end of the world.

I also paired this with a sweet potato puree, but you can look at my previous post on Coq au Vin with Pureed Root Vegetables for a similar puree that included parsnips, daikon, and carrots, but you can sub sweet potatoes for any of those to get the same deal. Additionally, I blanched some zucchini on the side and drizzled the wine-butter sauce on that as well...incredible. Let me know what you think!

Baked Flounder with Buttery White Wine Reduction Sauce
Flounder fillets (1 per person)
Olive oil
Black pepper

3T Butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/4C White wine (more or less)
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
1 Shallot, minced

Pimentón (smoked paprika)
Black or White Pepper

The flounder is the easiest thing in the world to prepare, so perhaps you should start on your sauce first.  I would actually turn the oven on, prepare the fish really quick, then start the sauce. When the oven is preheated to 350º, then you throw the flounder in for 8-10 minutes and you should be well onto finishing your sauce. So, here goes!

Prepare the flounder fillets by washing and patting them dry. Drizzle both sides of the fillet with olive oil, salt, and a little black pepper (the pepper can hold off until final seasoning) and rub that into the fillets. Arrange them on parchment paper, rolled up and toothpicked, seam side down on a baking sheet. Set aside until the oven is preheated.

For the sauce you need to prepare your garlic or shallot. You can either mince or crush the garlic. If you crush it, you can remove the garlic later and have a smoother sauce, but if you want to mince the garlic, it adds nice texture and in my opinion the presence of garlic is always better than not. If you are using shallot, just mince it. In a small saucepan, add a touch of olive oil over medium heat just to get the garlic going. Make sure your fire isn't too high at this point because garlic easily burns, and that would ruin your entire saucy effort. When the garlic begins to get soft and fragrant, the saucepan should be hot enough to introduce the wine. If you are thinking of adding an herb like thyme or sage, this should be done while sautéing the garlic in order to release the flavor of the herb (**Have you thrown the flounder in the oven yet? This is about the time). Add the wine all at once and let it reduce down, stirring often. When it has reduced for about 8 minutes, you can whisk in the cold, cubed butter a few cubes at a time. Whisk the butter until completely melted and then add a few more cubes, repeat this process until all of the butter is used. Your sauce should be frothy and creamy, and it will hold this consistency even as you serve it over the fish and zucchini.

If you are preparing the accompanying sides, the pureed vegetables should be arranged first and then kept warm on the stove. The blanched zucchini literally takes 2 minutes after the water boils, so you can do that while you are making the sauce. To serve, simply place the flounder on a third of the plate (clearly the plate I used was too big), a dollop of potatoes on the other, and the zucchini on the final third. Spoon the sauce over the fish and zucchini, garnish the fish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika or pimentón, and parsley over the vegetables. ENJOY! It is delicious!

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